ESPN released their annual Top 25 Players under 25 list yesterday, and surprisingly to no one, rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama not only made the list, but came in at number three only behind Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards. Here is what they had to say:
3. Victor Wembanyama | C | San Antonio Spurs
Age: 19 years, 307 days
2023-24 stats: 20.5 PPG | 8.2 RPG | 2.7 BPG
We are less than a month into the season and already running out of adjectives to describe the impact of Wembanyama. He became the first player to average 20 points and 2 blocks through five career games since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992. What has been the most impressive, however, is his play in the fourth quarter. In the first five games of the season, Wembanyama shot 15-for-19 in the fourth quarter and scored 21 clutch-time points. This is likely the last time Wembanyama will fall outside the top two, especially with Luka Doncic turning 25 in February.
Beyond some expected growing pains, Wemby has had about as good a start to his NBA career as we could have hoped, including some sensational moments and a historic performance in Phoenix, where he posted 38 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in just his fifth game: making him the quickest player to ever post those numbers and placing him in some rare company with LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the only teenagers to do it.
There is no doubt Wemby will continue to grow and rise up all the ranks, but another Spur who feels like he could have made ESPN’s list but didn’t is Devin Vassell. One one hand, it’s a relatively small sample size, but Vassell has certainly felt like a top 25 player under 25 this season. On the other, it’s not too surprising that he didn’t make the list considering he only appeared in 38 games last season, so the voters may feel they need a full season from him before making that judgement. He’ll have another chance to make the list next year since he’ll still be 24 at the start of the season, so hopefully he continues to make the leap.
Keldon Johnson also missed the cut on his last chance, and a case could be made for him as well, but fairly or not, the Spurs’ status in the standings last season with him as their best player likely didn’t help his cause. I would argue he is at least top 30, which is still a big rise for a former 29th overall pick.
What do you think, Pounders? Did ESPN get it right, or would you change anything? Feel free to discuss in the comments below!